This 64-Year-Old Aircooled Porsche Engine Was Bid to $220,000 and Didn’t Sell

The Type 547/1 Fuhrmann Four-Cam helped the automaker claim over 1,000 motorsports victories throughout the ’50s.

byChris Chin|
For Sale photo

While Bring a Trailer is known for selling some of the most unique and interesting automobiles on the market, this recent listing is even rarer. It's a 1955 Porsche Type 547/1 Fuhrmann Four-Cam, which was bid to $220,000—or about as much as a well-equipped 911 GT3 RS—and didn’t sell.

The Type 547 engine is best known as one of former Porsche CEO Ernst Fuhrmann’s greatest accomplishments and for its placement in the Porsche 550 Spyder, among many other famous high-performance Porsches of the 1950s, including the 904. It was intended to rival other high-spec powerplants from the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, and Jaguar who, at the time, just revealed its legendary straight-six. But this specific 547/1 is one of the later updated motors, which served duty in a pre-A 356 Carrera 1500 RS Speedster originally.

The Type 547 engine also brought worldwide recognition to Porsche in the world of motorsports, awarding the automaker over 1,000 victories during the 1950s, ranging from Class 1 and Class 2 victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the Carrera Panamericana race.

What separates this power plant from other air-cooled engines of the era is its valvetrain. While most of Porsche's other flat-fours of the 1950s utilized chain or belt-driven overhead-valve pushrod setups, the Type 547 motor and its variants featured a roller-bearing quad-cam, or dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC), allowing the engine to perform with the very best. Displacing roughly 1,500cc or 1.5 liters, the Type 547/1 was capable of 110 horsepower, thanks to two double-downdraft Solex 40 PJJ carburetors.

This specific motor was once intended for a custom sand rail built by its owner at the time. But those plans fell through and the engine sat in storage until the 1990s, which is when it was acquired by the current owner and seller. 

To verify its function, the motor was tested on a stand at the hands of Jacques Le Friant, a well-known vertical-shaft motor specialist.

There’s no telling what the reserve price was set at, but some BaT commenters suggest that it could’ve been as high as $300,000. They also mentioned that, down the road, it could possibly be matched with the car it originally came out of; in all, with the high-six-figure estimation of the pre-A 356 Carrera 1500 RS Speedster shell, this could easily find its way into a million-dollar restoration.